Porches with Purpose

Filed in Design and Decor, In This Issue by on September 10, 2016

by Chris Olson

For many, porches play an important role in life at the lake. We greet our guests from the front porch. We end our days on the back porch as the setting sun reflects off the lake. We cat nap on the sleeping porch. A porch is a great place to enjoy the indoor/outdoor aspect of lake living.
If you’re considering a new build, front, side and back porches should be on your short list of amenities. The addition of a front or back/side porch (often dubbed sunroom) adds function and value to any home and is almost always worth the investment. Selecting the right style of porch is important. If you’re adding on, the addition needs to match or complement your home’s existing architecture.
Proper Placement
Adding a porch may affect how daylight reaches your interior rooms. Be sure to consider placement of the porch and its effect on light coming into rooms such as kitchens and living rooms that might normally be well lit by windows.


Low or easy maintenance materials are the name of the game in porches. Constant exposure to the elements means that use of easy to clean and durable composite materials is best. This includes your construction finish materials as well as those used in your décor pieces.
Air Movement
On steamy summer days and nights, you’ll be thankful that you took the time to install ceiling fans on your porch. Not only do they move the air, but they add a decorative element to your porch. Depending upon the style of your home, fans come in all sorts of design styles from retro to ultra-modern. Adding a remote control option to those fans will ensure that you remain comfortable without disrupting your relaxation time.
Potted Plants
Plants are a must have item on your front porch. They bring seasonal color and curb appeal along with a welcoming tone to the entrance to any home. Make sure you’re keeping them watered, pruned and looking fresh all season long. In the fall, switch from annual flowers to pumpkins and colorful fall accents. As the holidays approach, think evergreen branches and twinkling lights.


Choose a great (perhaps unexpected) color for your front door. Your front door is a great place to show the world you’ve got a little bit of whimsy going on. Burnt Orange, Eggplant, Deep Turquoise, Dill Pickle Green–all great colors to consider giving your front façade a color lift. Coordinate that bold choice in a few accents such as pillows, a rug, or a planter painted in the same bold color choice.
Comfortable Seating
Even if you’ve only got room for a chair or two, make them comfortable enough to sit a while on. If your porch is a bit grander in size, deep seating, well-cushioned chairs and a loveseat will be appreciated by your guests.
Double (or More) Duty
A side porch could function as a dining room, library, greenhouse, or guest room. A four-season suited build could add valuable square footage, as well as character. Creating an intentional multi-purpose room allows for changing use over time and maximizes your investment.
Make It Light
A room constructed of window-filled walls will bring in a ton of natural light without sacrificing privacy in the rest of your home. French or sliding barn-type doors would be a nice addition allowing the space to be open to or closed off from the main living spaces.
One Word: Screens
We’ve seen (and admired) a number of back porch additions that are half screened in and half open deck. We’re betting that the screened in portions gets a lot more daily use. A screened in outdoor space is just short of a necessity when the bugs start flying. But they are also very enjoyable when the nights start to cool and you can be outside enjoying the fall air in the comfort of your own home.

Add a Lamp and an Ottoman

You’re going to want to do a little reading, whether it be the latest in your favorite detective series, the local hometown newspaper, or the latest stack of holiday catalogs, You’re going to need a great reading light. The ottoman can serve as a footstool (intended purpose) or a place to serve a late night snack.
Make Room for the View
Make sure that the furniture arrangement you choose optimizes that great view of the lake, woods, or setting sun, if possible. For those rooms set in a more suburban location, orient the layout to maximize your evening-time privacy.